Scots Greens blast TV debate snub as Ukip included

Scottish Greens party leader Patrick Harvie. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scottish Greens party leader Patrick Harvie. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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THE Scottish Green Party has hit out at plans to exclude it from televised party political broadcasts in the general election campaign later this year.

Ofcom today published its consultation on the list of political groups it considers to be “major parties” ahead of the general election.

The telecoms regulator said that its “initial view”, which is subject to consultation, is that right leaning group Ukip should be added to the list but that the Green Party - including the Scottish party, which operates as a separate entity - should not.

The party is the fourth biggest in Scotland, following a swell in membership after September’s referendum, when it was the only party other than the SNP to support independence. Membership has risen to more than 8,000, from a pre-referendum figure of just 1,700.

In the 2010 general election, the party stood in 20 Scottish constituencies and is expected to increase that this year.

“Ofcom’s proposal, which would lead to further elevation of Ukip in UK-wide TV coverage while excluding the Greens, would undoubtedly skew the range of voices Scottish voters hear,” said Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens.

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“It’s clear we’re heading for an election like no other, with a huge public appetite for a wider range of views and a changed political landscape in Scotland. The electorate here is more engaged than ever; Ofcom’s ill-considered proposal wouldn’t reflect this on our screens.”

He added: “Greens across the UK are enjoying a membership surge, are regularly outpolling the Libdems and we will continue to make the case for inclusion in set piece TV debates and wider media coverage, both at UK level and here in Scotland.”

The list of major parties is important for Ofcom’s regulation of election coverage, in particular requiring the relevant broadcasters to allocate at least two Party Election Broadcasts to each major party ahead of an election. The SNP, the Conservative Party; the Labour Party; and the Liberal Democrats are already on the list.

“Ofcom’s initial view is that Ukip may qualify for major party status in England and Wales for the General Election and English local elections on 7 May 2015.

“Ofcom’s initial view is neither the Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party) nor the TUV have secured sufficient support in previous elections and current opinion polls to be added to Ofcom’s major party list for the purposes of the May 2015 elections.”

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